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Programs such as the Help A Hero Scholarship program we created through the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) can help eliminate the financial burden of tuition costs. For five weeks each fall, Sport Clips Haircuts’ 1,900 locations in the U.S. host an in-store and text-to-donate fundraiser to collect donations that are used to fund the scholarship program. 

Programs such as the Help A Hero Scholarship program we created through the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) can help eliminate the financial burden of tuition costs. For five weeks each fall, Sport Clips Haircuts’ 1,900 locations in the U.S. host an in-store and text-to-donate fundraiser to collect donations that are used to fund the scholarship program.  (Wikicommons)

The weight of student loan debt is a $1.75 trillion load on the backs of more than 40 million borrowers, with a heavy toll falling directly onto our nation’s veterans. College tuition inflation continues to rise, and veterans’ educational benefits are stretched so thin that many need additional financial support. While the G.I. Bill covers the costs of most undergraduate and technical degrees and advanced certificates, it often falls short of meeting the full needs of a veteran’s academic goals – especially if that veteran is seeking an extended degree or graduate program or if they transfer those benefits to a dependent.

In 2021, it was reported that more than 300,000 veterans have student loan debt, with at least 10 percent in default on those loans. And with President Biden’s $400 billion student loan forgiveness program currently stalled, there’s no real immediate relief in sight. But the bigger issue is, veterans who’ve made the sacrifices to serve in the military shouldn’t be carrying student loan debt at all.

I joined the military in 1969 and spent seven years in the Air Force flying C-130s. In our all-volunteer military, those currently serving in our nation’s military are doing so by choice. These men and women are choosing to make sacrifices required to serve our country to ensure our freedom. One thing they didn’t choose was to take on tens of thousands of dollars of debt just to pursue the education often needed to pursue a host of civilian careers.

Programs such as the Help A Hero Scholarship program we created through the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) can help eliminate the financial burden of tuition costs. For five weeks each fall, Sport Clips Haircuts’ 1,900 locations in the U.S. host an in-store and text-to-donate fundraiser to collect donations that are used to fund the scholarship program. It is the largest scholarship program of its kind in the U.S. Administered by the VFW, these scholarships cover up to $5,000 of tuition and fees for recipients enrolled in public and private institutions, technical schools and certificate programs. Payments are made directly to the school on behalf of the recipient, allowing veterans to focus on what really matters – their studies, their families, and their educational goals.

Since 2013, we’ve been able to award more than 2,400 scholarships totaling $11.4 million to veteran students who are now working in our communities in critical roles as social workers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists and more. The individual impact of these scholarships is even more powerful when you consider that it has prevented more than one veteran student from dropping out of college, allowing them to complete their degrees. The stories of success are endless and rewarding. One scholarship helped ensure that a veteran student in Utah could shift income from tuition expenses to purchasing a car, so he no longer had to rely on a bicycle for transportation. And because students can receive the scholarship multiple times, another student in central Texas was able to use it each semester for the duration of her graduate studies, giving her the ability to avoid taking out student loans and allowing her to ultimately graduate with honors.

As we approach Veterans Day, it’s even more important to acknowledge our country’s veterans and service members and to thank them for their sacrifice. Now through November 12,

participating Sport Clips Haircuts locations will collect donations in-store from our generous clients. There’s also an easy way to donate by phone by texting “HERO” to 71777. And on Veterans Day, November 11, stores will donate $2 for every haircare service provided, which adds up to more than $100,000 just from that day. Most of our 1,900 locations will offer free haircuts for veterans and active duty service members with valid I.D. And those interested in applying for these scholarships have until November 15 to submit applications for spring 2023.

There’s no reason any military veteran should be burdened with student loan debt. The VFW’s Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship program – and all those who participate – are doing our part to make sure they have every opportunity to succeed in life after service, without imposing a heavy financial load to carry.

That is our way of saying thanks.

Gordon Logan, an Air Force Veteran who flew missions in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam war, is founder and Chairman of Sport Clips Haircuts.

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